Telecom headlines

Gary Handman (
Fri, 15 May 1998 11:47:01 -0700 (PDT)

** Television **Title: As Their Dominance Erodes, Networks Plan Big
Source: New York Times
Bill CarterIssue: TelevisionDescription: The big television networks are
in trouble. President of CBSTelevision Leslie Moonves said, "It's a time
of total transition. You havethree of four networks that probably aren't
going to make any money nextseason, and NBC, which made $500 million this
year, will probably be down to$100 million. It's ugly." In the last year
or so, the following challengesfor the networks have arisen: hit series
are becoming harder to find andturning up on nontraditional channels like
Comedy Central [South Park] andthe WB [Dawson's Creek]; the cost of
programming (i.e. NFL football gamesand E.R) have skyrocketed); and their
audience continues to shrink. "We usedto think the possibility existed
that the erosion was going to stop," saidABC president Robert Iger. "We
were silly. It's never going to stop."

Title: New cable services are everywhere, but they all seem to be owned
by the same big companiesSource: New York Times
Author: Geraldine FabrikantIssue: Cable/Ownership
Description: The Children's Television Workshop has teamed up with
Viacom'sNickelodeon to create a new commercial-free cable channel of
children'sprogramming. Ten years ago, CTW might have gone it alone as
cable operatorswere hungry for content. Now, CTW will need Viacom's clout
to get thechannel space on cable. "So competitive has it become to get on
cable -- andso uncertain are projections about the time it takes to reach
profitability-- that only giant companies with cable services already have
the money andthe muscle to develop new concepts."Title: Broadcasters
Offer Subscription DTV Fee PlanSource: Broadcasting&Cable

Author: Chris McConnell
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Broadcasters and others are saying that federal fees
fordigital TV subscription services should be based on the stations
grossrevenue for any such business. They say that a revenue-based fee
would bethe easiest to administer. "Setting fees based on the gross
revenue ...wouldimpose the fewest costs on the FCC and licensees," said
the NAB and theAssociation for Maximum Service TV (MSTV). Regulators are
working toimplement a fee plan that satisfies the parts of the 1996
TelecommunicationsAct that require the FCC to collect fees for
"subscription -based ancillaryservices that stations offer over the
channel they receive for digital TV."

Title: Choice is Key to Winning Consumers to DigitalSource:
Broadcasting&Cable (p62)<>
Author: Donna Petrozzello
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Last week, industry operators suggested that the vast
majorityof consumers have "Homer Simpson rather that a Winslow Homer in
their livingrooms." (Referencing the $30 million Bill Gates recently spent
to acquire aHomer seascape.) Panelists used the observation made by
moderator JeffGreenfield to suggest that for cable to succeed in a digital
world it mustemphasize the increased choice consumers will receive through
the use of ahigh-definition TV set rather than the improved picture. Leo
Hindery Jr.,president of TeleCommunications Inc. suggested that "pitching
consumers tobuy high-priced TV's as the proper way to receive digital TV
comes out in adisrespectful, revolutionary fashion...We have to be mindful
of consumersand their ability to afford new TV sets. Digital needs to be
rolled out, notdropped on consumers heads."

Title: Putting Commercial in NoncommercialSource: Broadcasting&Cable
Author: Steve McClellan
Issue: Public TelevisionDescription: The Public Broadcasting Service made
a presentation to the NewYork ad agency community last week that "took
shots' at cable networks andcommercial broadcasters as it works to
generate more sponsorship income foritself. Executives at the presentation
said that PBS hope to write about 10percent more national sponsorship
business next season. Ervin Duggan, PBSPresident, told attendees that the
PBS brand was "bigger than any cablechannel."

Title: In Terms of the Audience, Size Matters. But How Big?
And by Whose Measure?
Source: New York Times
Author: Saul Hansell
Issue: InternetDescription: A host of companies have gotten into the
Internet ratingsbusiness. Relevant Knowledge, Net Ratings, and, soon,
Nielsen all try tomeasure the traffic at popular websites. They numbers
mean dollars as moreand more advertising money is spent on the Internet.
The Top 10 websitescollect 52% on the Internet ad dollars.

Title: The Search Services Want Your Eyes to Find No Reason to Wander
Source: New York Times
Author: Saul Hansell
Issue: Internet/Online ServicesDescription: Companies have been searching
for a profitable business modelon the Internet for the last three years.
They may have found it -- thesearch itself. Internet search engines are
the most visited sites on theWeb; they get millions of visitors each day.
The new media is becoming amass media and counting eyeballs is beginning
to count. Wall Street has valued two publicly traded websites (InfoSeek
and Lycos) at $9 billion. To keep those eyeballs, these search sites are
adding new services -- email,chat rooms, etc -- to make sure visitors
don't wander away.

Source: Chicago Tribune (Sec 4,
Author: Tim Jones
Issue: Internet/Radio
Description: Many radio stations are moving their broadcasts onto
theInternet. It is easy and inexpensive (~$15,000) to do. But two
questionsarise: Who is out there listening? and How much money can be made
off them?The Internet offers radio broadcasters a global office and
interactivityunheard of on even the best radio receivers. With
improvements in fidelity,Internet radio's audience could really take off.

Title: U.S. Sues To Block Satellite TV Merger
Source: Washington Post
Author: Paul Farhi
Issue: Antitrust
Description: Alleging violations of antitrust law, the Justice Dept.
filedsuit yesterday to block plans by MCI Communications Corp. and
RupertMurdoch's News Corp. to merge their satellite TV company with one
owned bymajor cable TV companies. "Rather than compete, [the companies]
decided tomerge. That's bad for competition and bad for consumers," said
Joel Klein,the Justice Dept.'s top antitrust official at a news conference
yesterday.Klein added: "It's clear as a matter of logic and fact that one
group has nointerest in eroding cable's monopoly in the U.S., and that is
the cableindustry."

Title: Gore Announces 'Electronic Bill of Rights' Aimed at Privacy
Source: New York Times
Author: John Broder
Issue: Privacy
Description: According to officials that have helped write the speech,
VicePresident Al Gore will define privacy as a basic American value during
anaddress to New York University graduates today. A new "Electronic Bill
ofRights" will help ensure consumer privacy concerning medical
records,Internet transactions, and other personal data. The action is an
admissionthat private industry has not done enough to safeguard
confidentiality andit is a recognition of growing uneasiness among

Title: Plenty of Words From the Sponsors
Source: Washington Post
Author: Paul FarhiIssue: TV
Description: Advertising executives estimate that one of every four
minutesin "Seinfeld's" 75 minute farewell episode tonight will be
something otherthan the actual sitcom. In TV talk, this phenomenon also is
known as"clutter," and it continues to grow bit by bit each year.
According to theAmerican Assoc. of Advertising Agencies and the Assoc. of
NationalAdvertisers, clutter has expanded by almost 15 percent over the
past fiveyears. TV executives say that clutter growth is driven by three
majorfactors: 1) advertisers want more airtime as the economy continues to
grow,2) programming increasingly costs more money so networks sell more
air timeto balance out profits, and 3) competition among broadcast and
cablenetworks push each network to air more promotions for upcoming shows.
Somecritics think that increasing clutter will decrease the value
ofadvertiser's message and also is socially irresponsible when it comes to
serving "the public interest." Ronald K.L. Collins, a legal scholar and
thecoauthor of "The Death of Discourse," a book about the cultural impact
ofadvertising, said the clutter trend indicates "that the public airwaves
areincreasingly the corporate airwaves...Functionally speaking, the
publicinterest in being treated as synonymous with the interest of

Title: Clinton Administration and EC2 at USC's Annenberg Center
forCommunication Host
Conference on Digital Media Content for Children and Teens
Source: NTIA<>
Author: Paige Darden
Issue: Digital Media
Description: A conference on Digital Media Content for Children and
Teenswill be held June 11-12 in Los Angeles. This is the third conference
in aseries sponsored by the Clinton Administration: the first was held
inDecember of 1997 and focused on safety issues for children on the
Internet,the second was held in February and focused on access to the
Internet forall Americans. More about the conference at

Title: Smithsonian Wired
Source: Wall Street Journal (W10_<>
Author: Kate Flatley
Issue: Arts
Description: Anyone who has surfed a museum Web site knows that most
onlineexhibitions are simply reproductions of the actual physical exhibit
ormuseum collection. The Smithsonian Institutions Smithsonian Without
Walls(SWW) project is designed to provide the viewer with a new approach
to thatexpected convention. SWW aims to create exhibitions that can only
be viewedand experienced online. The overall goal is to make the exhibit a
moreeducational and personalized experience than what one might have at
atraditional museum show. You can check out SWW's recent exhibition

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld